Oxycontin manufacturer rejects settlement for role in opioid epidemic and moves toward bankruptcy; new vaping-related respiratory illnesses reported; Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, a 2020 presidential candidate, proposes a new healthcare plan for veterans.
The Sackler family, who owns Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, has rejected a $4.5 billion settlement for their role in the opioid epidemic and has hinted at filing for bankruptcy, according to NPR. State attorneys general negotiating with the company toward a national settlement reported an impasse that had occurred over the weekend. Two of the officials predicted in an email obtained by NPR that the company will now file for bankruptcy “imminently” with states already beginning preparations for dealing with the bankruptcy proceedings. In a statement emailed to NPR Sunday night, however, the drug company hinted a deal might still be possible.
Reported cases of serious breathing illnesses related to vaping has risen to 450 in 33 states, including as many as 5 deaths. The Associated Press reports that US health officials urged people to again stop vaping this past Friday as they evaluate the cause of these illnesses. No single vaping device, liquid, or ingredient has been linked with the illnesses, but many cases have occurred in people who had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high. New York state investigators have been focused on an ingredient called Vitamin E acetate, which is used to thicken marijuana vape liquid and considered dangerous if heated and inhaled. CDC officials said they are looking into several ingredients, but that no single factor has been found in every case.
2020 presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, revealed on Saturday a new plan to expand veterans’ access to healthcare and provide housing assistance to over 500,000 former service members, according to The Hill. The plan details the expansion of the Department of Veteran Affairs to address increased veteran benefits, which would include veterans with other-than-honorable discharges. Harris would direct the Pentagon to review all non-honorable discharges for possible bias and mitigating factors such as posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury diagnosis. The plan would additionally promote the creation of a Veterans Transitional Housing Block Grant that will give communities resources to assist former service members into transitional housing regardless of discharge status.